Spot-on: Liquid art takes on alcohol crisis


Liquid Art’s thespians Vivian Gichuhi and Stephen Mwangi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Liquid Arts felt no shame in telling the truth about alcoholism and the cruel impact it has on families and the alcoholic as well.

Focusing on the family of Marcus and Petty and their daughter Sharon, we immediately see a troubled home. It starts with the mama (Victoris Kuwona) arriving home and finding it left in a mess. There is no sense of order or discipline, which she attributes to the house help Fatma (Sophie Kendi) who is definitely part of the problem. She’s a cheeky talk-back sort of worker who is rude beyond words.

But her fighting spirit is matched by the mama who is prepared to physically fight back which she does, using her trusty scarf to hit home against the demons that seem to have invaded her house.

The mama is equally prepared to lash out at her only daughter (Irene Mungai), her only explanation being that she is tired.

But the cause of what looks like a family crisis is clarified once Marcus (Majestic Steve) blasts into the living room, and we can see the source of the problem is the man who’s an alcoholic.

It takes time to find out what happened to Marcus who had once been the rock-solid foundation of his family.

But now it comes out clearly once daughter Sharon returns home dressed for school, but she can’t go back until her school fees are paid. Her pleading for his help comes out so soulfully that we can hardly believe his reply. He tells her education is not important. It will never do her any good, which is not what he used to tell her when she was a child and he was a sober man.

But now we can see that booze not only makes people, particularly men, stupid and un-remorseful. It also makes them unloving, unkind and insensitive towards those they once loved.

One of the most painful scenes in the show comes as Sharon asks her dad to please help her return to school and he tells her it’s no big deal. Brushing her off of the one thing she truly deserves is tragic, dumbfounding, and painful to watch. It’s as if she becomes an orphan right before our eyes. Irene Mungai deserves recognition for reaching into her own soul to apply herself to make us feel those painful moments.

The next scene is also significant. Marcus brings home two of her boozy friends, Joe (Moses Kioko) and Martin (Stephen Mwangi) who also talk about beer as “liquid happiness”. Yet they seem more inclined to grab Marcus’s hard stuff from his mini-bar. Whether they are the ones who are hooked on the booze or merely colleagues in defeat.

Now, is the time when we realise that Marcus was recently sacked for constant misdemeanours against his company’s Oath of conduct. He has consistently been found drunk on duty. This is why Tabby (Victoria Mwangi) the company’s boss chose to sack him and his colleagues for the same in-house ‘crimes’.

The only thing that finally wakes Marcus up from his boozy stupor is the discovery that his supposed friend tried to seduce his daughter. His conscience is finally roused as he remembers a sense of right and wrong. And seducing his child is definitely wrong.

It wasn’t clear if the mom had heard about Sharon’s seduction. That only happened after the mom found out the sexual predator was her boyfriend. She had been trying to help Marcus get back his job. Since the company boss is her girlfriend from long ago, she decides to plead with her on his behalf. But she couldn’t succeed since Tabby knew Marcus was still in the fog of his addiction.

Unfortunately, Marcus was just at the front door when the topic of divorce came up. So once he’d walked into the living room, he was on the attack against Tabby. After the mama managed to slip up that horrible situation, she told him to get out. But she would never see him again.

The misery that was about to ensue after Tabby sacked him, the mom would have to live with since she’s the one who also threw him out of their house, and only heard from him through a letter Sharon had received but chose not to share it with mom until she realised she had to share since he was speaking to her through the suicide note.

They were words that conveyed his love and sorrow for having failed them as husband and father, a tragic truth that came too late despite them both being prepared to forgive if the obsession was past.

I am never a fan of suicide but the ending, though tragic, was also beautiful. One only wished ‘spot-on’ could be staged in every bar in Kenya. Even better would be having the government help everyone get a job.

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Note: The results are not exact but very close to the actual.